Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Xavier Avery, 2008 Playoff Contenders #50
The best moments in a dismal, rainy evening came courtesy of rookie Xavier Avery. The 22-year-old outfielder was playing in his second career game, having been plucked from AAA Norfolk to replace the ailing Nolan Reimold and Endy Chavez. Avery batted leadoff and was instrumental in a pair of rallies that resulted in all five O's runs in the game. In the first inning, he doubled against Ivan Nova for his first career hit and scored on J. J. Hardy's single up the middle. After Robert Andino started off the bottom of the fifth with a walk, the newest Oriole tied the game with a triple down the right field line for his first career RBI. Hardy drove him in again, this time with a two-run homer. That gave the Birds a 5-3 lead and it was all downhill from there.
Avery was Baltimore's second-round draft pick in 2008 out of Cedar Grove High School in Georgia. He is the third player selected by the O's in that draft to reach the majors, following first-round pick Brian Matusz and fourth-rounder Kyle Hudson. Speed has always been Xavier's calling card, as he stole 125 bases in 483 minor league games. However, his lack of power and plate discipline (minor league batting line of .266/.328/.363 with 477 strikeouts) seemed to pigeonhole him as a fourth outfielder at best. But "X" got off to a good start at Norfolk this year, batting .273/.373/.469 with 20 walks and 29 strikeouts in 33 games. At his young age, it's possible that he's made some legitimate improvements to his approach as a hitter, and if so, he could be the rare homegrown position player who contributes to the Orioles' big league club. That remains to be seen, but in the meantime I just wanted to show you that I actually had a Xavier Avery card. It's always good to see some kind of end result for a guy featured on a minor league or draft-pick card.